Superman's there but kinda-not-really-in-some-ways. So's Spidey and most of The X-Men.
Batman is in there, in the VIP section. Has his spot roped off... or so I hear.
Wonder Woman's in there but she's always getting mistaken for a groupie.
Iron Man just made it in there a couple of years back and Green Lantern seems set to join him next year.
Most of these characters have permeated into the mainstream consciousness through different forays into mass media and all have one thing in common, they originated within the pages of a comic book.
The road from idea to comics to media darling often goes a little something like this:
Comic stand, someone buys it and has his or her mind blown, tells others. Someone on the lookout for "the next big thing" or someone who believes in the potential inherent in the concept or someone simply looking to fill time in a schedule comes a-knockin', offering it up to a broader audience.
Superman goes from idea to comic to radio to serial to cartoon to TV show to movie and somewhere along the line achieves iconic status.
The X-Men start out as an idea to comic to canceled comic to revived comic to biggest-selling-comic-on-the-stands to cartoon series to blockbuster tentpole movie franchise to an idea that Hollywood is already looking to reboot.
Let's face it, comics have a velvet rope, an intangible way of rewarding certain characters for being and for keeping others out.
Watchmen had a built in audience that held it up and spread its mighty word around for over twenty years and then it caught the break of being directed by the man who directed Frank Miller's graphic novel, 300. It's pedigree was sealed and was set to take it's place alongside The Dark Knight as a new millennial triumph and then...
Watchmen was the sound of general apathy crashing up against greater expectation.
For Iron Man, who I don't think anyone would have pointed out and said would become a franchise character at any time, there's a Daredevil movie or a Phantom movie, a Shadow movie...
You get my point.
For all the fabled history and possibilities inherent in a character(s) story, why do some just work and others just do not?
We have to ask the same with comics, in general. Why does a character like Iron fist go unloved for decades before someone like a Matt Fraction can see the possibilities inherent in the story-of-a-white-child-raised-in-a-mythical-Asian-esque-city-who-fights-a-dragon-and-takes-its-heart, resulting-in-his-having-the-power-to-shatter-things-with-his-iron-like fist, he-discovers-he's-a-billionaire, meets-a-super-strong-black private-eye-with-bullet-proof-skin-wearing-a-yellow-satin-shirt-and-metal-tiara-and-befriends-him?
How does this not enter into the mainstream while Blade does? How does Iron Fist remain a current comics fixture while Blade, the comic book character, flounders through cancellation after cancellation?
So, my question is this:
What makes a character A-list while others remain behind the velvet rope?